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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Chinese Lion Dance

One of the more interesting performances to watch during any Chinese festival or event is the dragon or lion dance. The dances look similar, of cute animals with dancers inside. Their synchronic movements often make us want believe the fluffy animal is a real, living animal.

The most obvious difference between the lion and dragon dance is that the dragon is a much longer creature, with about 10 dancers inside. Meanwhile, lions have 2 dancers inside, one for controlling the head and the other for controlling the hind part and the tail.

Ah, but the persons enclosed inside are not ordinary dancers. Rather, they are very skilled martial artists. To pull this off, one actually has to have distinguishable strength and coordination. You can't really lug all that costume around and manage to be cute or powerful and synchronized if you don't have the body strength.

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The earliest dragon dances were recorded about 2000 years. It was used for entertainment of the royal court.

There are many legends about the origin of the lion dance. It's kind of weird for a lion symbol to be revered when lions aren't really endemic to China. But, legend says an emperor had a dream about an animal that saved the emperor from harm. The emperor didn't have an idea what that magnificent animal was. Later on, a consultant informed him that what he dreamt of was a lion. The emperor did not forget how the animal saved him in the dream, so he considered the lion as a symbol of luck and protection.

Those who belong to martial arts centers get to perform the dances during special occassions like New Years, Moon Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, weddings or special birthdays. They train long and hard to be able to perform beautifully. So if any of you are interested to join a dragon dance troupe, ask your nearest martial arts centers. There are also Dragon Dance Associations throughout the US and one may just be near your area.

To close, here is something I found in YouTube. It's an old video but I can't help but love it. I hope you like it too.



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